Man charged with unlawfully killing polar bear will head to trial

Lawyer for accused indicates man will argue self-defence at trial

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A 30-year-old man accused of unlawfully killing a polar bear near north of Inuvik last summer is expected to claim self-defence at trial, his lawyer said in Yellowknife’s NWT territorial court earlier this month.

Justin Noah Elias faces two charges under the territory’s Wildlife Act in relation to the killing of the polar bear.

It’s alleged that between late August and early September of last year, Elias “hunted a polar bear in the Southern Beaufort Sea (ISR) Polar Bear Management Area  I/PB/03 without a tag contrary to (section) 3 of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region Inuvik Hunters and Trappers Committee Regulations,” according to court documents.

A second charge under the Act alleges Elias possessed “a dead polar bear that was unlawfully harvested.”

The incident took place on Garry Island, located about 150 kilometres northwest of Inuvik.

Elias wasn’t charged under the Act until January, several months after the alleged offences occurred.

On May 24, Elias’ lawyer Ryan Clements indicated his client would be arguing the bear was shot and killed in self-defence.

Prosecutors had some diifficulty reaching a lone witness in the case — a man who was hunting with Elias at the time of the incident — causing the initial May 27 trial date to be adjourned.

During a second attempt, officers left the witness, apparently residing in a cabin near MacKenzie River, with a subpoena to testify in court.

A trial date has been set for June 19 in Inuvik.

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